Sonic the Hedgehog had the fourth-best President’s Day weekend after Black Panther, Deadpool, and Fifty Shades of Grey, but it did shoot to the top of another list: Video game movies! The weekend as a whole was not overly spectacular nor outright poor by standards of the holiday this century. Two other newcomers opened respectably in relation to their low budgets while Downhill lived up to its title.
The makers of Sonic the Hedgehog can take some pride in becoming just the third Fresh video game adaptation to get a full theatrical release in America. Sonic’s three-day weekend of $57 million was good enough to break the short-lived record set by last summer’s Pokemon: Detective Pikachu ($54.36 million), putting 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ($47.73 million) in third place. Adding an additional estimated $11 million on Monday and Sonic is well on its way to become just the fifth game-to-cinema film to cross the $100 million line. (The Angry Birds Movie and 2018’s Rampage were the others.) Pikachu grossed over $144 million.
Unfortunately, the first film under Disney’s newly branded Searchlight Pictures got buried. A remake of 2014’s Force Majeure, Downhill was released in 2,301 theaters, the fifth-largest opening weekend launch in Searchlight’s Fox history. But Downhill‘s $4.67 million start from Fri-to-Sun was lower than any of their 2,000+ theater launches, below even 2016’s plagued The Birth of a Nation start with $7 million. Downhill is estimated to gross $5.19 million over the holiday, the lowest wide opening ever for a film starring Will Ferrell.
Let’s talk for a moment about Birds of Prey – or as it is now known in the marketing, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. There has been a lot of chatter of box office analysts jumping on the negative train when it comes to what it has made so far, while others push back that the film is actually doing fine. Part of that debate was set up by the tracking companies which predicted for weeks an opening in the $50 million range. Now even if the film had achieved that, it still likely would have been the lowest opening for a film in the recent DC Cinematic Universe. (Shazam opened to $53.5 million.) The fact that it opened $20 million lower than that is what set off alarm bells and maybe even a few reactionary claims. Remember that every film’s ultimate success is in relation to its budget. While perception can play a factor, let us focus specifically on where the film is in purely business terms.
Let’s take the conservative route and say HQ:BOP cost $84.5 million to make, the lowball figure reported by Box Office Mojo. While it has grossed just $59.2 million in its first 10 days domestically (and $61.6 million with the holiday), it is up to $145 million worldwide. That puts it $108 million away from breaking even. How much of that can it make up in the U.S.? Well, films in February that have made between $56 million and $59 million in 10 days have finished between $85-$96 million. Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes To Jail is the highest-grossing film in February after 10 days ($64.5 million) not to reach $100 million. Four films to gross below $53 million in that time (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Peter Rabbit, How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Wayne’s World) managed to reach the milestone. Back to Birds of Prey though: That means to break even the film still needs around another $69-$80 million internationally, where it only made another $28 million this weekend. Now if the budget was more in the $100 million region it is still going to need about another $154 million to reach profit. Anyway you slice it, the film is likely to be a disappointment regardless of whether it reaches nine digits here.
Over to a pair of new releases that will not reach $100 million but do have a shot at making a profit. Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island did not screen for critics nor even hold any Thursday night previews. Nevertheless it grossed an estimated $14 million over the four-day holiday, doubling its $7 million production budget. A small P&A addition and, even with a huge drop next week, the film could find itself in the black by the weekend. The Photograph got the best reviews among the wide newcomers this week and grossed a decent $13.3 million over the holiday. However, its budget was a little higher at $16 million so it is going to take some word-of-mouth past Valentine’s Day weekend.
Moving over to definitive success stories in the Top 10, Jumanji: The Next Level passed the $300 million mark and is approaching $800 million worldwide. Sony also owns the biggest success of 2020 so far with Bad Boys for Life, which has just passed $369 million worldwide. No film that has grossed over $179 million after 31 days of release has failed to gross $200 million domestic. Bad Boys 3 passed $181 million on Sunday. Sam Mendes’ 1917 may have come up short at the Oscars last Sunday but it has just passed $145 million domestic and over $323 million worldwide. Some of that profit will go to cover Universal’s disastrous Dolittle, which is up to $73 million in the U.S. and $182 million worldwide, not even close to recouping its $175 million budget.
Of course the big winner at the Oscars was Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, which Neon put back into 2,000 U.S. theaters this weekend. It made its first appearance into the Top 10 – despite being available on physical and streaming – with $6.47 million. That puts its domestic total at $44.34 million, which makes it the sixth highest-grossing non-English language film ever. It will pass Instructions Not Included ($44.46 million) for fifth by tomorrow, where it will then rank only behind Zhang Yimou’s Hero ($53.71 million), Life is Beautiful ($57.24 million), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon ($128.07 million), and The Passion of the Christ ($370.27 million). Neon also had Portrait of a Lady on Fire in 22 theaters this weekend, where it grossed $514,707, equaling a $23,395 per-theater-average, 2020’s highest to date over Bleecker Street’s The Assistant ($19,785 in four theaters).
Last year’s President’s Day weekend was loaded with new releases and the leader had a disappointing haul in the $33 million range. That was Alita: Battle Angel, which won the battle but ultimately lost the war by losing more than $50 million against its budget and production. Second place went to previous leader The Lego Movie 2 with $27.7 million, handily beating Valentine’s Day opener, Isn’t It Romantic?, which grossed $16.6 million, bringing its five-day total to $22.8 million. The top five were rounded out by What Men Want ($12.2 million) and Happy Death Day 2U ($11 million), which opened to less than half of the original. Over the week, M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass finally crossed the $100 million mark on its 28th day of release. The Top 10 grossed $126.41 million over the holiday weekend and averaged 59.6% on the Tomatometer. This year’s Top 10 grossed an estimated $162.25 million (the ninth-best since 2000) and averaged 61.6% with critics.
In 1935, The Call of the Wild, starring Clark Gable, was the last film released under Twentieth Century Pictures before it became 20th Century Fox. Some 85 years later, Chris Sanders’ version of the Jack London classic will become the first film released under Disney’s newly re-branded 20th Century Studios after dropping the “Fox.” Harrison Ford stars in the film with a CGI dog. Then STX releases Brahms: The Boy II, the horror sequel to its low-budget success from 2016. And director Autumn de Wilde and Anya Taylor-Joy take a crack at Jane Austen’s Emma, which is opening in limited release.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]